Vodafone gives broadband and fixed-line a second chance with UK launch

Vodafone is adding the UK to its list of broadband countries, rejoining a difficult market.

Vodafone is making a fresh attempt to crack the UK home broadband market.

The company, which has around 19.5 million mobile customers in the country, announced on Wednesday it is now selling home phone and broadband services too.

Vodafone is offering both ADSL and fibre broadband services, which will be priced lower for customers that already take a mobile service from the company.

The ASDL service, with speeds up to 17Mpbs, will cost £5 a month for existing customers, and £10 a month for anyone else. Fibre up to 28Mbps is priced at £15 for Vodafone customers and £20 for those not taking another service from the telco, while 76Mbps fibre adds an extra £5 to both.

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All contracts are for 18 months and include a Vodafone router for the customer's home. The router offers features such as Boost, which allows users to prioritise a particular device's claim to bandwidth, and beamforming capabilities, which enable the wi-fi signal to be concentrated in a particular spot.

The fixed-line communications packages will be sold under the brand name Vodafone Connect, and will be available to customers in Manchester, Berkshire, and parts of Hampshire and Surrey from today, and to users in Essex, Hertfordshire, and Yorkshire "in the next few weeks", according to Vodafone. The service will be opened up to non-customers later this year.

Cindy Rose, consumer director at Vodafone UK, described the company's move into broadband as "an ambitious launch in a crowded market".

Vodafone already has 11 million broadband customers in Europe and its UK network will cover 20 million premises at launch, thanks to the fibre network it inherited when it bought Cable & Wireless. While the network's coverage means it has "parity with BT", according to Rose, it won't be offering any fibre-to-the-premises services, unlike its larger rival.

This isn't the first time Vodafone has tried to crack the UK broadband market: it sold off its Vodafone at Home service to Plusnet in late 2011.

Vodafone's move into UK broadband will see it enter an already crowded market, where telcos are increasingly keen to push bundled services. Virgin Media, for example, offers TV, phone, broadband, and mobile packages from £17.99 a month, while BT is likely to add a mobile component to its bundles once its acquisition of mobile network EE is completed. While EE is chiefly known as a mobile network, it too has a broadband arm, and accounts for around three percent of UK broadband subscriptions.

While Vodafone is yet to announce any TV service, Rose confirmed that one will arrive later this year.

Earlier this month, Vodafone confirmed it was in talks with Liberty Global - the parent company of Virgin Media - over an asset swap. While the two companies didn't detail which assets could be exchanged, analysts speculated one business's Netherlands and German operations may end up being swapped for the other's UK counterpart.

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